Sharjah International Book Fair 29th Edition

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Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
ExpoCenter 7th - 17th November, 2012. Hours | Saturday - Thursday: 10a.m. - 10p.m.; Friday: 4p.m - 10p.m.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Anatomy of a (Twit)Book Club meeting

October 16th 2010
11 o’clock, I arrive at Wild Peeta, the current venue for our book club gatherings.  The place is quiet on a Saturday morning, so it is the ideal location to host our sometimes loud and often bizarre discussions.  Nominally the meeting kicks off on the hour, but I only see @TDAllonsy, set up behind her mac.  “UAE time,” she says with a sigh.  I empty my pockets at my seat, a habit I display when my better half is not around to supply carrying capacity in the form of a handbag, and get a coffee.
We catch up, and the others start trickling in – @WajihaSaid, who charged herself with snapping some pictures of the meet. Which of course didn’t stop half of everybody else from later on snatching the camera to try their hand at it. @Theregos, who as always provides the extra incentive in the form of cupcakes.  Today it was coffee and walnut. Enough said. @Zooberry, @Shaahima, @Hamna_ (dubbed our resident Niqabi), @Aabo0 and @RupertBu, the man behind the twitter handle of the Sharjah International Book Fair (@ShjIntlBookFair / #shjibf).
Order is brought to the table and we settle down to the business of the day. First on the agenda is discussing the choices made two months back.  Previously titles used to be discussed one month after being selected, but people found it hard to find availability in the local stores, so the gap was widened to two months for this purpose.
Next up we discuss each person’s submission for next month’s selection, after which a vote is taken to choose three.  Other book clubs might choose just one per meeting, but in our case the idea is to have a wider selection to read from to further encourage reading.  Previously four books used to be chosen, but now, to keep true to the “Twit” element of the TwitBookClub, the last book is chosen via online submissions and voting.  Current selections can be seen here.
To see the full tweet-by-tweet update on the goings on, you can either lookup @TwitBookClub(the official twitter handle for the club), or search twitter using the hashtag #TwitBookClub to catch other people’s contributions to the conversation.  I would have liked to include a snippet here on the post, but I have on this occasion found myself to be technologically impaired.  Note to non-Twitter users: the “at” sign @ indicates the twitter handle, or nickname, a person uses on Twitter.  The “number” sign, properly known as a hashtag, is used to index certain terms so that one can search tweets containing said terms and keep track of such mentions.
Before closing Rupert briefed us on the upcoming Sharjah International Book Fair (26th Oct – 6th Nov), now in its 29th edition.  Previously this used to showcase literature in Arabic only,  whereas this year they opened up the scope to include English literature.  A number of authors and industry names will be making an appearance in talks or workshops, among them:
  • Zohra Saed & Sahar Muradi (American Afghan lecturers and authors of “One Story, Thirty Stories”)
  • Samar Jarrah (author of “Arab voices speak to American Hearts”)
  • Yasmina Jraisatti (First European based Arabic Literary Agent)
  • Shelina Janmohammed (Number 1 best selling author of “Love in a Headscarf”)
  • Octavia Nasr (previously with CNN)
Other info, date and location details on the site.
People sometimes exclaim on twitter that they didn’t have the time to read any of the selections, usually on the eve of the meeting.  It is a misconception that reading the books is compulsory, when in fact it is not.  It is desirable of course, as that’s the point of the whole show, but anyone is welcome to come and join the discussion.  In the end it is just a gathering of like minded people discussing a common interest.